The Black Friday holiday sales weekend is always a stressful time for brands as they scramble to hit the right balance between ad spend and profitable sales. Yet this past weekend was even more stressful than usual when a key reporting metric from Amazon’s Ad console began doling out erroneous information.
The issues started late Friday afternoon, according to Ryan Walker, VP of operations at Momentum Commerce, a digital retail consultancy that manages Amazon advertising for 20 brands.
Amazon provides a dashboard that keeps track of ad spend, including sponsored products, sponsored brands and sponsored display ads, for each brand. Companies use this report and their own sales data to decide how best to allocate their ad budgets.
By Friday evening, the ad spends reported by Amazon were roughly 50% less than brands expected them to be. Consumers could still see the sponsored ads, but on the back end, brands had no idea how much they had spent thus far on advertising.
“The brand relies on Amazon’s reported numbers to know how much they had spent today relative to what they planned,” said Walker, who has worked with brands on their Black Friday campaigns for Amazon for several years but has never seen an outage like this before. “We mostly relied on the sales numbers to make decisions,” he said. “But we were completely blind as to what we were going to end up spending.”